Recently, I have been very busy conducting research for an assignment for the MSc in Studies in Mindfulness. The area of research that I have been focusing on is comparative mindfulness/insight traditions. In particular, I have been analysing Buddhist, Christian and Secular methods.

As you can imagine, there is a rich diversity of practices and ideology within all of these traditions, and I have found myself musing over the enigmatic and often times evasive language that is used to describe the journey of moving beyond our clouded version reality: a journey that like it or not, many mindfulness practitioners come to find themselves on. For instance, as we start to move into stillness, we can soon become aware of all of the interconnected confluences affecting our present moment, which in turn can bring a sharpened awareness to our experience.

Through my investigation of these varied traditions, I have found myself identifying with theories, ideas, and often times, the poetic philosophy that accompanies this type of discourse. In short, I have found myself taking to the fields, books in hand, with a mind ready to get ‘lost’ in the allure of figuring it all out. Only, rather than figuring anything out, I have found myself ‘lost’ in the distraction of following the train of thought of some 3rd century mystic. Quite wonderfully, my mindfulness research has brought me to many different lands and into the minds of many great thinkers. However, it has also scattered my focus and energy.

In order to bring my focus back, and keep my attention on the task at hand, which is researching the methodology of mindfulness training within these traditions, I have had to be quite diligent in setting my intention to keep coming back to my research question. Also, to make sure that I made time for my sitting practice to ground me in this moment in the 21st century. I have used a phrase to help me with this: ‘Gathering the Energy’. Whenever I found myself getting lost in the translation of ancient Buddhist teachings, or the excitement and inspiration of the secular movement, I have reminded myself to ‘gather my energy’, take three deep breaths, ground myself in this moment and bring myself back to my research question.

After two years of studying mindfulness at third level, I think it is finally starting to infiltrate my own methodology. And it is enhancing the experience …with a sharpened awareness.